Look Ma! No Hands!

©istockphoto/Eric Hood

©istockphoto/Eric Hood

Do you commute by car? If so, I encourage you to do at least one of three things.

1. Hire a driver.

2. Drive a standard transmission.

3. Get a bluetooth headset.

After two rather harrowing days on the road (the famous “Blue Angels” must be in town, on leave), I’ve come to the conclusion that we are not meant to make telephone calls while we are driving defensively. So please, if you do drive yourself, don’t use your “free hand” to handle a mobile phone.

For those of us who prefer to travel with our phones and don’t have a driver (I have a horrible sense of direction and the phone comes in handy…), modern technology has come to our rescue. Well, the rescue of all the other people on the road, really. Today, there are a number of very elegant options for making hands-free calls.

The absolute best of the lot, in terms of sheer usability, is the bluetooth enabled car and iPhone. A good friend of mine uses this option with his Honda Civic. He listens to music by plugging his iPhone into the dash; it plays through the speakers. When he has a call, the music fades, an integrated speakerphone chirps, he pushes a button and speaks into the air. When he finishes his call, he pushes a button to hang up, and the music volume returns to its pre-call levels. Brilliant.

Of course, I prefer to drive with the sunroof and windows open when the weather is clement. This is in preparation for that glorious day when I begin to drive a vintage convertible. Therefore, a speakerphone may not be my best solution.

Enter the second generation jawbone. I have the first model, which needs a little tailoring and gluing back together on occasion. The second gen is supposed to be better built and the noise reduction feature is truly a marvel. Positioned correctly on your cheek, the jawbone picks up vibrations from your facial bones when you speak and clearly transmits your anxiety at being late for your appointment. Even with the windows down. The new one also comes with a little leather wrapped earclip…. although they don’t offer it in brown to match your shoes and watch strap. Clearly an oversight.

If you object to having the more visible headset, there are the new tiny transmitters to consider. The Dragon V2 by Callpod is very Jack Bauer. And it functions like a walkie-talkie, without using airtime minutes, if it’s in range of a companion piece. Excellent for those wagon train hauls down to the beach, allowing you to communicate with the excess baggage car following close behind.

However, all this investment in new technology becomes unnecessary if you don’t drive yourself or if you simply pull over, take the call and then resume your travels. Or let voicemail pick it up.

You may be wondering about my recommendation to drive a manual transmission. It forces you to concentrate more and makes it damned near impossible to juggle a cell phone, especially in traffic. Besides, it’s lots more fun.

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